As the end credits rolled up on The Hobbit: Battle Of Five Armies, I said ‘well, that’s 144 minutes of my life I won’t get back.’ That followed the 169 minutes I lost with the first one (my wife said ‘it felt like out-takes from The Lord of The Rings’) and the 161 minutes I … More Why I felt let down by The Hobbit movies
One of the major battles Jack Kerouac had to fight when publishing On The Road was his lack of divisions. His editors won; the book as originally published had divisions – I wouldn’t exactly call them chapters. And with good reason. Divisions, usually chapters, are an expected part of a book – a useful device for … More Essential writing skills: what I learned from Jack Kerouac about chapters
Long-time readers of this blog know that I am something of a fan of J. R. R. Tolkien. A lot of a fan, actually. And the more I look at what he wrote, the more impressed I get. Take his settings. More often than not, and especially in The Lord Of The Rings, he’s telling … More Essential writing skills: using weather to create a mood
It’s almost a cliche these days to say that modern fantasy writers all stand in J R R Tolkien’s shadow. Or George R R Martin’s. But it’s true. Obviously, having two middle names beginning with R is a pre-requisite for greatness in the genre. And it was Tolkien who really defined the field for so many author … More Essential writing skills: it’s OK to write square mountain ranges
Writers never finish learning how to write. ‘We are all apprentices’, Ernest Hemingway once said, ‘in a craft where no-one ever becomes a master.’ Too true. It is an endless learning curve. Steep at first – as novice writers realise how much they have to learn, take their first unsteady steps into that world. Later … More The greatest writing challenge of all
A recent US court ruling that 50 Sherlock Holmes stories published before December 1923 are in public domain – hence free for all to use – raises questions about whether we’re about to be inundated with a flood of new Holmes adventures. It’s subject to possible appeal, I suppose. But it’s a tricky issue. Here … More Sherlock’s public domain – but will writing new stories be elementary?
Most writers, I realised the other day, hang out with writing groups. Or at least other writers. J R R Tolkien, for instance, was part of a group called the ‘Inklings’, who met in a local Oxford pub – the Eagle and Child, known locally as the ‘Bird and Baby’. Every Tuesday from 1939 until 1962 … More Do you have a writing group…like Tolkien?
A couple of weeks back I read Firelands, debut dystopian thriller by US author Piper Bayard. To call the book fantastic is an understatement. I was hooked from the first pages, dropping the book I was writing myself, despite looming contract deadline, so I could keep reading. Firelands is set in a post-apocalyptic future where the … More The science of the inevitable Taupo apocalypse
A stainless steel statue of New Zealand’s greatest short story writer, Katherine Mansfield, was unveiled the other week in a city park in Wellington. It’s incised with words from her stories, and captures her with her classic hairstyle – a Louise Brooks-style blunt cut that Mansfield insisted made her look like a poodle. Mansfield – … More A close encounter with cyber Katherine Mansfield and her poodle hair
It occurred to me the other day that I could probably be classified as a bit of a Tolkien fan. I’ve been soaking up Tolkien’s books ever since I was about 10. I must have read The Lord Of The Rings a dozen times or more. The Hobbit as often. I have the maps, I … More Being a Tolkien fan is all about the reading experience